Friendship

The rain splashed down on my damp forehead and I smiled. I picked up my feet and ran giggling with nature-imposed happiness towards her. She was standing in a patch of dripping ferns with a grin on her face. I barreled into her, knocking her down into the ferns, laughing benevolently as we crashed down.

She and I lay there, rain pouring down on us unnoticed as we smiled and gazed at each other. Her white t-shirt clung to her breast and for a moment I felt like a child with her mother, calm and content in a heaven of love and security. We lay there, side by side, faces turned to the fresh green alder leaves above us, while the rain hit our eyes forcing them shut.

***

Dark. A hand brushed my face roughly. The smell of wet grass mixed with the strong scent of sake and orange juice invaded my nose. Under my detached fingers - wet earth, thick with dirt and moss. My leather jacket creaked as I flexed my shoulder muscles, checking to see if I was alive. We lay huddled together, the six of us, in the front lawn of her house. It was early night, dark enough to shelter us in shadows and accentuate the warm glow of the house's windows. My head fell, unable to keep the awkward position needed to see the house. It fell down into the wet grass, smashing my nose up between my eyes. I heard muttering to my left and slow, drunken laughter to my right. Wondering where the bottle went, I crawled on my hands and knees toward the slow laughter.

She lay there, outlined in electric light shadows that rolled down the lawn from the house to spill around her and her male admirer.

"Where's the bottle?" My voice surprised me, like I didn't expect it to be there, drawn and slurred.

"Hermh..." she mumbled and passed the shiny glass over to my outstretched hands. I collapsed there and sipped. I did not like the taste and gave it back. My flesh was cold. Cold night. Nothing seemed to reach me down inside. Was I empty like the rest of them? I didn't think I was, but here I sat, drunk on my other-half's lawn. Fragments of thoughts stampeded through the barbed wire fences in my poor brain. I could not think. I sighed and closed my eyes. I wrapped my arms around her warm body and burrowed my head into her side. I think I fell asleep, or as close to sleep as I could, under her wings of creativity and insanity that night.

***

The room was cold with morning air. I opened my eyes reluctantly, not wanting it to be over. I looked across all the sleeping bodies left over from the party, laid out like left-overs from a dinner. Light snoring came from parted lips and tightly shut eyes. I gazed across the scene, soaking it up in the privacy only morning can deliver. I cursed my mother under my breath for having to pick me up so early. My heart heavy, I stood up, dressed, and gathered my articles. Musing silently that I looked like an angel, I crept across the bodies and looked down at her face. She was peaceful in the way that all people while sleeping are peaceful. I studied her face desperately; I did not want to forget a single feature.

I wanted to kiss her forehead goodbye, like the way they always do in the movies, so perfect and sad and quiet, but I didn't. I was afraid I'd wake her, and I couldn't quite reach her. So I stood and watched, as time seemed to freeze around me. In my head I was kicking myself for not having the guts to just go ahead and do it. I knew I'd regret it, but I only whispered goodbye and walked out of the room.
It didn't feel fair or right, I thought bitterly. Why'd she have to leave? Why the hell boarding school? I fought hard to be supportive, but why so far away? California was so far away.... I hated being the one to leave first, leaving her house and leaving her. My chest ached with the weight of six years of a friendship. In three months, Thanksgiving, together again. The crazy friends would re-unite. Three months. I stepped out to my mom's waiting car.

***

"Okay, ready? Here we go - ACTION!" I cried out in a half-choking laugh. I was lying on my stomach in a hallway of my house with my video camera propped on the floor before me.

The lens focused on a simple page that read Nature Trekking with Barbie. The paper title fell backwards by accident and exposed the scene for our summer boredom movie of the week. Taped up against the wall was a desert scene from National Geographic. In front of that sat little plastic cats (for wolves) and ceramic nativity sheep and cows to represent the animal population. Across the screen came a Conestoga wagon lamp complete with electric cord trailing. My friend's hands came into view, dragging behind them the napkin-clad Barbies. Our B-Movie ended like all the others, without resolution and abruptly. 

A Counselor, A Coffee Stain, and Silly Putty

I listened. There was a faint tick from the clock on the table beside me. Schizophrenic candle light bounced around the room. Herbal tea wafted through the air and flirted with the scent from the vanilla candles. A car sped past the small office and a bird cawed outside the window.  

I looked around. Next to me, sharing the womb-like couch, was another girl about my same age. Her eyes were filled with pride and assertion. Whenever I looked at her I saw a lioness in her place, laying with head high and a regal stare.

To the left of the couch sat another girl, a little older. She was snacking on chips and sipping a Coke. Whenever I looked at her, she seemed to always be smiling. Directly across from the couch sat the leader of our group, a woman about forty years of age. She held a mug of tea with both her hands over a clipboard dotted with notes recently scribbled down. Her mouth carried a warm supportive smile.  

I looked down at my lap. I was holding, very tightly, a box of Dots. My shoe lace was nearly undone. I looked back up.

“So, Katie,” the woman with the clipboard was saying, “how did you react?”  

I smoothed down my hair and paused. The candle next to me flickered in time with the clock.

“Well,” I began, “I went outside and I sat down at my favorite spot in the woods, right, and I....”

I listened to my words. I heard their sounds and the way they tumbled clumsily out of my mouth. I focused my eyes on a stain on the carpet. It must have been created by a coffee spill, I thought. The rug was actually quite nice, I decided, despite the stain and its bad need for a vacuum. I followed the weave of the blue triangle; across, up, down, across, up, down.... All this seemed to go in perfect harmony and rhythm with the voice I was hearing. It sounded distant and fuzzy, but entirely clear and precise in meaning. I marveled at the reasoning and thought process of the speaker. What a wonderful argument they were presenting! I tried to make the words clearer to hear, and in so doing, they stopped.

It was then that my head snapped up and my mouth went dry. I realized that I was the one speaking. And I had no idea what it was that I had been saying. My body felt as though it was being twisted like silly putty and thrown against a brick wall. I felt hurtled through a hundred head rushes and then smack! - back into my head.

I looked out of my eyes at the woman with the clipboard. She, along with the two other group members, were staring in anticipation. I looked back blankly. The immortal clock ticked next to me.

“Umm.... What was I saying?” was all I could manage to produce.